Dear Customer... What do you want?


I am an entrepreneur who has a product that will now be sold to retail outlets. The sales team is expected to sell 10 units to 5 clients per day. With this, I want them to get feedback from clients who do not buy in order to improve the sales pitch, value offering and client demographics.

What questions can I ask to get an honest response from clients who did not buy?

The train of thought is that the sales agent will ask them to answer in person to the rejected sales agent. Each agent should have a form with a few questions that they will ask the client to at least get some form of response that will allow us to adapt and improve.

Thanks for the help, greatly appreciated.

Note: If you vote on another answer, please take the time to comment on why you up or downvoted.

Sales Customer Feedback Customer Service

asked Jul 23 '11 at 20:54
181 points
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4 Answers


You might run into problems getting honest answers if the sales people they have said no to are the ones that are asking them why they didn't buy. This is likely to be seen by the prospects as pushy sales tactics.

Another option would be to get someone else from the company to follow up the next day with a friendly phone call or send them a survey to answer with an prize or incentive for returning it.

answered Jul 23 '11 at 21:10
Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • Thanks for the feedback Susan, I will take it into consideration. – Salmon 11 years ago
  • +1: Have somebody else walk up, explain they're doing an analysis of people who didn't buy, and offer them a $5 bill to take a one minute survey on the spot. Make it worth their while to divert their time and attention from their own personal needs to yours, and for heaven's sake, don't pester them at home the next day - it comes across like you're stalking them for not buying. – Bob Murphy 11 years ago


It sounds to me like you need to get out of the building and trying selling these dang things yourself. You need to pitch the product yourself; you need to see when the potential customers' eyes get bigger and when they start to look bored. The information about why people are buying or not buying is way more subtle than anything which commissioned sales staff are going to notice... only the creator of a product can truly have that conversation with a customer.

Once you've done it a few dozen times, you may start to notice very specific trends that you can ask your paid sales staff to watch for. But without experience selling directly you won't know what to ask for.

answered Jul 25 '11 at 12:32
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points
  • Thanks Joel, my diary is booked to do just that in this week. My sales team and I all have direct selling experience, and have been properly trained. It is focusing on understanding the clients needs that I am interested in. Creating a system that pulls sales to the company (and not in the sense of spending on marketing, it should be a buy product of sales.) With this I have created basic exit interviews and a survey that we all will be using over a 2 month period to gather information to adapt the sales and marketing tools to meet the clients real needs. – Salmon 11 years ago
  • +1: In restaurants with Michelin stars, once your order has been taken, the wait staff don't interrupt the dinner conversation to ask you how you're doing - they pay attention, and only intrude if they see you're displeased. I've come to believe "satisfaction surveys" are the professional equivalent of a gum-cracking waitress who barges into the middle of a quiet conversation asking "How y'all doin', hon?" If you couldn't be bothered to pay attention when I was deciding whether to buy your product, why the devil should I take even more of my (to me) valuable time to tell you why? – Bob Murphy 11 years ago


Not sure what type of product you are selling (since it does make a difference), but unless its something that pretty much sells itself, your salesman won't be able to find the time to ask questions.

Consider your targeting for them to sell "10 units to 5 clients per day", assuming an ambitious 20% success rate, they'll need to meet 25 customers a day to average that figure.

Unless the item they are pushing is easy to understand and requires no explanation or much sales talk, its just not possible.

Lets say he works 8 hours a day minus an hour for lunch and another for "wastage", that leaves him with 6 hours of actual working time. That's asking him to talk to almost one customer every 13 mins, pitch the item, sell it, collect, issue receipts, etc and then FIND another prospect. That's already discounting the transportation time needed, the waiting time while someone opens the door or stuff like prospects on the phone and you having to wait till he's done, etc, etc.

Its really gonna be hard for him to find time to ask question and wait for useful answers within that time frame.

If yours is a product that has a higher rejection rate or requires you to make appointments, etc, you can pretty much forget about it. That's unless you want your salespeople to start telling "white" lies on those feedback forms.

answered Jul 24 '11 at 01:56
296 points
  • Thanks for the feedback permas, +1 for real life factor – Salmon 11 years ago


I'd focus on getting feedback from people who do buy it. It will help your staff focus on what is important/works. Not sure how flexible your product is to change the features and functionality anyway. You could be making changes to satisfy one group at the expense of the other. You're going in circles and not growing the customer base.

It's too easy for the sales people to claim the price is too high which reduces your profit but increases their sales rate at your expense.

You may want to get feedback independent of your sales staff.

answered Jul 24 '11 at 04:50
Jeff O
6,169 points
  • +1 for feedback independent of your sales staff – Susan Jones 11 years ago
  • Thanks Jeff, thanks for the feedback. Good frame "focus on people who buy it." Great insight. – Salmon 11 years ago

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